Transfer of Norwegian Whaling Technology and Skills to Japan from the 1880s to the 1930s

Today, whaling is still an ongoing business for both Norway and Japan, even if the scale is much smaller than before. The Norwegian city Sandefjord is a whaling city. The Whaling Museum and City Library have a collecton relating to whaling, including Japanese whaling.

From the Meiji period to the start of World War II, Norwegians contributed to modernizing Japanese whaling. The Norwegian historian Eldrid Mageli is now about to finish her book about Norwegian influences on Japanese whaling. (The book will be published 2006/2007.) I’ll introduce her article “Norwegian-Japanese whaling relations in the early 20th century”, and the whaling situation just before this period. Her article is concerned about the transfer of technology, both equipment and skills, and modernizing Japanese whaling. Norwegian authorities were concerned about the rise of Japanese whaling power at the same time.

In the 1860’s Norwegian Sven Foyn invented a grenade harpoon. Japanese Jûrô Oka who established whaling company later, travelled to Tønsberg in Norway 1897 to study modern Norwegian whaling. Later Norwegian gunners and sailors were hired by Japanese whaling companies.

Mageli’s book project is supported by money from the Japan-Norway the centenna. She has used materials from The Whaling Museum and City Library in Sandefjord, the Norwegian National Archives Riksarkivet and the Norwegian National Library.